R.I.P Prince- Truly a Cultural Icon

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The world lost cultural icon – Prince.    While millions loved his music, let’s not forget about his efforts to address social and economic justice.

This article was taken from CNN.

http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/21/technology/prince-yeswecode/

Prince wasn’t just a renowned artist. He was also an advocate for a more inclusive tech community.

It was this belief that inspired Prince’s friend Van Jones to start YesWeCode, a nonprofit in Oakland, which is at the forefront of a movement to get more young minorities involved in technology.

The YesWeCode initiative, which is part of Jones’ Rebuild the Dream charity, is on a mission to teach 100,000 low-income youths to write code.
The idea grew out of a conversation Jones had with Prince after the 2012 killing of black teen Trayvon Martin.

“Prince said … ‘A black kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a thug. A white kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a Silicon Valley genius,'” recalled political activist Jones in conversation with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday.

“Let’s teach the black kids how to be like Mark Zuckerberg.”

YesWeCode is one of many organizations working to diversify tech. Their goal is to create economic opportunities for kids of color — and help build a generation of tech talent that companies can tap for years to come.

Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity is no secret. It’s apparent in the staff makeup of some big tech companies.

Take Facebook, for instance. Just 1% of its tech workers are black. It’s only slightly better — 3% — in non-technical roles. In 2014, 2.9% of Facebook’s new hires were black, according to its latest EEO filing. It’s a similar story at many other tech companies.
And the problem is also present in the funding pipeline, which helps determine which entrepreneurs get investments.

According to data culled by Richard Kerby at Venrock, 2% of partners at venture capital firms are black. That affects the kinds of entrepreneurs who get funding. “I don’t look like Zuck,” Matt Joseph, a black entrepreneur who spoke out about the issue, tweeted in March.

For black women, things are particularly bleak. A recent report found that black female founders made up just .2% of all venture capital deals from 2012 to 2014.
For all the grim statistics, there are also success stories.

Take Mamadou Diallo, a 17-year-old young man from Harlem who was recently offered a full ride to Stanford.

Diallo was introduced to coding at age 14 through a weekend coding course. He took it because it promised a free laptop — but it exposed him to a world he’d never seen before.

It’s kids like Diallo that Prince wanted to help. Prince used his widespread appeal to promote YesWeCode and other initiatives. He headlined the ESSENCE Festival in 2014, where YesWeCode was launched with a youth-focused hackathon.

But Jones said Prince didn’t boast about the work he did. He helped support Rebuild the Dream and donated to other organizations like Eau Claire Promise Zone in South Carolina, which helps prepare community kids for college.

“He really believed that young people could change the world,” said Jones, who is a CNN commentator.

Prince was a teen when his career got started, one of the reasons why he was so passionate about helping the younger generation find success.

“He believed in the Black Lives Matter kids so much — and he had a dream for them,” Jones said. “He said, ‘I hope that they become an economic force. I hope that they use their genius to start businesses.'”

 

 

How many Donald Sterling’s are destroying the lives of Blacks in North America?

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Excuse me, as I am sure there are a million blog posts about this topic.  But I figured I would add my two cents.

When TMZ.com released the Donald Sterling audio this past weekend, many were shocked to hear such blatant racism come from an accomplished business/sports personality.  Perhaps even more shocking to many, was the fact that he displayed racism towards the very same group (Blacks/African Americans) who just happen to represent the majority of his team, and league.

Note, this is not the first time Sterling has had ‘race’ problems.   Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports highlights this in a recent article

Obama speaks on Sterling remarks

Obama speaks on Sterling remarks

However for many of us who are Black, this is neither shocking or surprising.   Instead, what Sterling has done is underline what many of us feel – That no matter our skill & education level, many in power view us Blacks as inferior being who shouldn’t think, talk or action unless we have permission from our ‘masters’.

This mindset is often found online when the topic surrounds race or ethnicity right here in Canada.   When Blacks speak up on an array of issues, many will speak to us as if we have no right to have an opinion.  The common line of “Freedom of Speech” in invoked, however it is only freedom of speech when THEY have an opinion, not us.

The problem becomes larger however if those behind the keyboards are also the same individuals sitting in the Executive Offices of various places of employment.  As we posted in a previous blog – a job is how many of us regardless or race/gender, provide for our families.   If the people who control your employment have the same attitude of a Donald Sterling or many of these “keyboard haters”, then we start to see racism transform from not only a social issue but an economic one.

At least we know where Sterling stands on this issue as it relates to Blacks.  The deeper concerns are as follows:

  • Why did the NBA wait for this event to happen when Sterling has a history of demonstrating this behaviour?  Why has the NBA protected him for so long?
  • For every Sterling, how many more people in power have this view towards Blacks?
  • How many qualified Blacks are overlooked for promotions, new opportunities and business ventures due to racism?
  • If multimillionaire NBA players who bring in millions for the league and sponsours can be looked upon in this manner, how are everyday, hard working blacks viewed?

From Sterling’s comments, to the racist backlash against President Obama – an increasing amount of blacks at all socioeconomic levels are seeing their worst fears confirmed.   The fear is that even if we are contributing to society; are we still viewed as modern day slaves?

Some will argue that Affirmation Action/Employment equity is making a difference.  However, even TIME Magazine in a recent article mentions that it is not Blacks reaping the benefits of Affirmation Action.

There are millions of people who adore the NBA and its players.   Basketball is a beautiful sport and has helped transform many lives.   Many of those millions are Blacks who work hard and contribute to our society.   Are they getting a fair shake at work?  Are their kids getting fair shake at school?

Maybe we don’t feel the need to speak about this issue because after all, we are “multicultural”.   But as a Black Man born and raised in Canada, I don’t see multiculturalism in the hall of power.  Or even in our media nearly enough.

I would rather deal with someone who is honest about not liking me than with someone who poses with pictures of Elton Brand yet makes disgusting comments like this to this girlfriend about Blacks.  I just wonder, how many Donald Sterling’s are out there and how many lives of good hard working Black People are they destroying?

 

Blog by Radcliffe Dockery

 

 

 

 

Black History Personality of the Day – The Hon. Senator Don Oliver

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Senator Oliver was the First Black Male named to the Senate of Canada.

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On September 7, 1990, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney summoned him to the Senate of Canada. Since his arrival in the Senate, Senator Oliver has served as a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce; Chairman of the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs; Chair of the Standing Committee on National Finance; Chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry; Chair of the Standing Committee on Transport and Communications. Senator Oliver was Co-chair of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on a Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians.  Learn more about Senator Oliver

Blog by Radcliffe Dockery

State of Black Canadians – Facts vs. Fiction!

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The Black Community in Canada is vibrant and growing!    In 2013, a group of some of the best black minds in Canada came together to put gather statistics about Black Canada.   One of the most interesting statistics destroys the stereotypes that Blacks are “dependent” on Government.   Below are some highlights from the report.

T1888571_513005795481101_2089841211_nTaken from the Report Titled, “Toward a Vision for the Black Community”

Do you respect Nesta Robert Marley at work or only while on Vacation?

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images (1)Not much of an introduction needed here.   Bob Marley is an world icon.   While known for his music, one of his biggest contributions to society was the message of justice, unity and equality.   So while many will play his famous hit, let’s hope that the same people will accept individuals who look like Bob Marley in fields outside of music!

As a Black Male with “Dread Locs” over the past 12 years, I find it troubling that while many will have no problem dancing to Bob Marley’s music, they have a problem treating someone who looks like him fairly in places of commerce.    It is time to heed Mr. Marley’s words, and respect our diversity in all aspects of life – just not when you are on a Jamaican vacation!

 

 

Blog post by Radcliffe Dockery

Black History Month – Person of the Day: Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa

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Yaa Asantewaa (c. 1840–17 October 1921) was appointed queen mother of Ejisu in the Ashanti Empire. In 1900, she led the Ashanti rebellion known as the War of the Golden Stool against British colonialism.

 Yaa Asantewaa was the Gatekeeper of the Golden Stool. She is quoted for saying the following:
“Now I have seen that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our King.
If it were in the brave days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anokye, and Opolu Ware, leaders would not sit down to see their King taken away without firing a shot.
No white man could have dared to speak to a leader of the Ashanti in the way the Governor spoke to you this morning.
Is it true that the bravery of the Ashanti is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be!
I must say this, if you the men of Ashanti will not go forward, then we will. We the women will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.”

Queen Mother Nana Yaa Asantewa

AA ASANTEWA--QUEEN MOTHER OF THE EJISU CLAN OF THE ASANTE

Martin Luther King speaking on Black Pride

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Martin Luther King speaking on Black Pride

Fantastic short video clip from Dr. King, speaking on Black Pride and the real meaning of Black Power.   Note Scholar Manu Ampim regarding Martin Luther King Jr.

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http://www.manuampim.com/king_bp.html

Dr. King’s Statements in Support of “Black Power”:

Black Power, in its broad and positive meaning, is a call to black people to amass the political and economic strength to achieve their legitimate goals.  No one can deny that the Negro is in dire need of this kind of legitimate power.  Indeed, one of the great problems that the Negro confronts is his lack of power.  From the old plantations of the South to the newer ghettos of the North, the Negro has been confined to a life of voicelessness and powerlessness. …The plantation and the ghetto were created by those who had power both to confine those who had no power and to perpetuate their powerlessnessThe problem of transforming the ghetto is, therefore, a problem of power – a confrontation between the forces of power demanding change and the forces of power dedicated to preserving the status quo.”  (Where Do We Go From Here, pp. 36-37).  Emphasis added.

We cannot speak about the contributions that Dr. King made to humanity without acknowledging that he also saw the need for Blacks to have pride in themselves.  No individual can expect to gain respect when they do not respect themselves.

We will not bridge racial divides if those who are feel oppression, refuse to demonstrate pride and respect for themselves.   In addition,we will not realize “the Dream”, if some refuse to acknowledge the feelings of those who feel oppression.

The media needs to pay more attention to the Dr. King in this speech, not just the Dr. King that makes them feel ‘comfortable’ when it comes down to speaking on race!

Blog post by Radcliffe Dockery